I have been thinking recently about some tough times in high school. I never really fit in; I never really understood why. I was tortured by it really. I never spoke about it. I just tried to keep busy. I sang in choirs and bands and played a lot of sports. I never knew why I didn’t fit in; I just didn’t. Now I realize why but back then I didn’t know. I had friends but I was really shy and just wasn’t on the same level as most of the other kids.
I was always worried and scared and well just different. My interests didn’t jive with anyone else or any of my friends and that felt like a lonely place. If it wasn’t for sports I don’t think I would have done as well as I had. Well, I take that back, I know I wouldn’t have.
Especially Soccer. I was good at it. I never even played soccer until freshman year in high school. Me and some friends kind of joined on a whim to get in shape for basketball. I ended up doing better in soccer. We were a brand new team. Our town didn’t have soccer teams when we were coming up so it was all new to us. No one wanted to play goalie and I said, shit, I’ll do it. I mean I already knew how to catch and I knew I could jump and dive. I just had to learn about the game and the angles. Goal keeping is all about cutting down those Angles. Since our team was so new and a lot of the teams in the wealthier surrounding towns had been playing for a while we got our asses kicked. Great for me because I saw a lot of action in the goal and I got good. It was a soccer for dummies crash course. I mean we would lose 20 – 0 and I still had like 120 saves. I was beaten and bruised; so much so that I got called down to the counselors office because they thought I was being beaten. I was like no …I’m just on the soccer team.
My general practitioner would examine me and after seeing my bruises he didn’t let his own daughter play soccer in school. I tried to explain it was unusual circumstances, I was a goalie on a very young team. I had bruises that were as big as my whole shin. Literally people would try to take me out or break my leg. We were undefeated on my college team and that was no joke. There was all sorts of under-handed stuff that happened out there. Some teams were classy. Others .. not so much. I was always in pain but it was ok.
There was something about soccer, I liked it a lot. I loved basketball too but I wasn’t as successful at that. It made me take my mind off my problems. It got me thru. I would be running around , kicking, diving on that soccer field and it made things feel possible again.
I was really happy when I decided to play soccer in college and found a school that wanted me. I found a few actually. I even got into UMASS and they were NO. 1 in the country in womans soccer but I chose to go to a smaller school. Looking back I probably made the wrong decision but UMASS was so big and scary to me back them. In college I was on a completely different kind of team than high-school. They were undefeated and they were very good and I might only have one shot and one save the whole game. That was a mental warfare. It takes tenacity and Mental stamina to be a goalie. You had to stay focused and you had to save that one shot because if you didn’t you could lose and that was not an option. I felt alive in that goal. I felt alive as soon as I put those goalie gloves on. I can tell you that going to college didn’t change anything about feeling different. I always felt like I didn’t fit in but soccer was everything for me at the time and somehow it got me feeling more centered like maybe I could finally fit in.
When we would practice we would do this thing where the team would just take continuous shots at me one after the other. That was pure adrenaline. Diving, getting up, diving again. It was great. I remember one practice we were doing that and I just started sobbing in the middle of the drill. I just stood there crying and my team-mates were just looking at me. They thought I was hurt. I wasn’t, not the way they thought.. I just told them to give me a minute.
They all looked so confused as I sat there and sobbed; my coach was like what’s wrong? Sometimes that happens. A wave of emotion comes over you and you can’t submerge it, it comes unexpected; deep pit in your stomach, moves up to your throat and then … there it is. Without any warning.
Dark feelings, depression, learning problems and social problems would overwhelm me at times and I didn’t know what to do about it. That soccer field was my saving grace. After games I would run around the field or late at night I would go out there and run three or four miles. I didn’t run as much as my team-mates being the goalie so many times I would run after practice or after games; whatever. I felt like a bad -ass queen when I was in that goal. I loved that game. I loved that field. During the day in between classes I would go to the field and get some sun. Listen to some music. Put some Robert Cray on the boom box and chill. I got some dark tans in New Hampshire on that field. Because I was on the soccer team I got to be in a apartment building that was really for upper classman but I got in because I was a soccer player so my apartment was like 10 feet from the soccer field and everything else you needed. There were some perks for being a soccer player.
When I got out of college I said to my self, what am I going to do without my soccer team and my soccer field. What am I going to do? I knew that soccer helped me with whatever was going on with me. With that deep depression and I was worried because I knew it would get worse and it did. I didn’t know a lot about my feelings back then but I knew enough to know that.
After college I would go to the gym and do other activities but nothing compared to running on that grass and kicking and diving and running and competing in such a way that made me feel alive. At that time when I was on that field in that goal with my team I felt like I finally fit in. I was the captain of my ship. For three hours I felt like there is where I am supposed to be and all was ok. I was part of a team and I loved them. When I was thinking about that game I didn’t have time for intrusive thoughts and if they did come they didn’t stay as long. After we won and we always did …that adrenaline kept me RIGHT until the next practice or game.
Whenever I would lose my way and I still do at times; I would think of that soccer field and the sun on my face and the fresh air and think how can I find that again. The feeling of being alive and in the moment of competition; focused on my team mates and that game. Damn I miss that.
I dream of soccer still, sometimes I wake up and my heart is racing and it’s another soccer dream. As life changes and we grow and get older things change and adult stuff happens. Sometimes staying balanced can get difficult. It’s easy to lose our way.
As long as I can always find “my field” it helps me thru, what’s your field?
Love and Happiness,
When I started this blog I knew I was going to be honest about my life and mental illness. I knew it would be cathartic and cleansing for me. I also knew there would be some backlash. I told myself to be honest even if it gets scary. I told myself to tell the good and the bad because that’s life. Even when bad stuff happens I know there is a nugget of truth or wisdom I can take from it. God knows that’s the truth. If there’s one thing I learned in all of the pain; I learned that if you survive it; it produces something genuine and sinuous. There is a gracefulness of movement in my body and my mind. I don’t mean in the traditional sense but a new-found comfort with myself and how I move emotionally and physically. It’s hard to describe but I am doing the best I can.
I went to a Jam the other day to sing. It was the first time going there and it’s was super fun. I will definitely go back. I met a lot of nice people, musicians etc. When it was my time to get up and sing I was telling everyone what key I was going to sing in so I said Born under a bad sign in D like dog. Then the Drummer looked at me and said, you mean D for Deranged. I said, what did you just say? I said interesting choice of words.
He just had this weird smile on his face. I was smiling, positive and then he said that. It does hurt because I’m sensitive. It hurts because I try so hard to start over and live a peaceful life. I don’t do well with people attacking me. Especially people I don’t know. If your honest about having a mental illness whether you’re in recovery or not you will have to expect this. I don’t know this man and he damn sure doesn’t know me so he had no right to say that because I am certainly not deranged. The other part of this is I am a woman who does speak her mind. I also let others speak their mind and I will listen but A lot of men hate on that. They call you all sorts of names and your just supposed to take it, like woman aren’t supposed to have an opinion. I told a friend the other day; I said no one is letting me be the new me and it’s so frustrating and he told me to write it down. Yeah write that down. So I did.
It took me a long time to realize how to help myself but I did. It’s a lot of suffering and a lot of work but I’m doing it and that’s why comments like this is so hard to take. So I wrote it down. No one is letting me be the new me. I looked at it over and over and I realized why he told me to write it down. I think he told me to write that down because he was telling me they don’t get to choose. You get to choose. You get to choose what and who you react too. What and who you give power too. I already know this. It’s up to me; not them. I know this in my brain but in my heart; it is still not sure; its latent and slow. I might be a bit of a Pollyanna and want to live in a world where everyone loves each other. I never thought Pollyannaism was a bad thing.
I have talked about this before that the stigma for mental health is so severe and negative compared to someone who is suffering from cancer etc. I can focus on the wonderful people I met that night or the few guy’s who weren’t so kind. I was warned by some people that there might be some people there to try to hurt me. It’s up to me what to focus on. I am training my brain to focus on the positive people and forget about the angry negative cruel ones.
Everyday I am getting better, stronger and a little less sensitive. I will always be honest, I will probably still say the wrong thing sometimes but my heart is in the right place. I will apologize if I hurt you and I will still love you no matter what. I love the guy that called me deranged and I love the others guys that stood in front of me when I sang and told me how old I looked. I knew they were trying to intimidate me and that’s cool. If that’s how they want to spend their evening so be it. Sometimes I get mad and forget what it is I’m trying to do. But when I am alone and with myself in solitude I realize then again that I love you all.
I have no room in my heart for any hate; it’s puffed up with love. Peace.
Love and Happiness,
The moon was a perfect sliver in the Navy Sky As I look up for a moment My hands release my head I'm dizzy. Spinning. I look back down and sob into my hands as my tears drip softly down to the ground thru my long fingers making little puddles next to my shoes. I made a mistake I made a mistake I am in pain So I drink and I drink and I drink and think about what I've done Over and over like a spinning wheel I can't stop Thinking Thinking Thinking I am melting into this bench wishing I could be this bench so I don't have to be human ever again. It seems I never learn My heart burns My stomach churns and hell returns to me like an old friend who is softly tapping me on the shoulder and whispering in my ear sweet nothings of what could have been. How sad.
You are thinking and people are talking and you are thinking while their mouths move in slow motion. Sometimes you are thinking extraordinary thoughts; violent thoughts, painful thoughts as they talk to you about the pattern on their new wedding china.
If they only knew. —-
When people ask me what Bi-POLAR is like and no one really asks BTW but if they did ask I would say do you want the short answer or the long answer?
The long answer is long. Everyone knows about he Highs and Lows but do they know how torturous and dangerous they are? Yes, The Mania can be fun and creative and sexy but it is very dangerous because you feel invincible like you are the archangel walking down the street with a bullet proof vest on. You can do know wrong. Kind of Like how teenagers feel because their so dangerously young and hormonal. Its dangerous because you lose your ability to make decisions correctly. Do you know you lose about 95 percent of the decision making part of the brain so if we are manic and untreated we can possible only have a five percent ability to make logical decisions correctly. Add alcohol, drugs and lack of sleep to that equation, not good! That’s crazy! 5 percent. Many undiagnosed Bi-Polars self medicate with booze and drugs to help kill the pain or to help us feel normal or sometimes to just help us feel different. Sometimes all you want to do is just feel different than the horrible painful state your stuck in. When in a manic state your sex drive can be heightened to a high and dangerous point. There are men that know this and prey on females that are in manic mode. Mania can make a woman or man “loose” or as they call it because their brain is not functioning correctly. This can be very dangerous and lead to bad choices and risky behaviors. We all know what that can bring on. That’s the problem with these kind of mental-disorders. One bad thing can lead to another bad thing which leads to another bad thing and after awhile bad things are all you have.
It is like a hamster wheel of hell. The disease generates problems and then doesn’t give you the tools you need to handle them. That’s not fair and it can be very dangerous.
People say Just be positive. Are you kidding me? I am positive. I was positive my whole life. I got up and went to school and played sports and went to practice and made music and did my homework and was nice to my friends. If I wasn’t positive I wouldn’t have survived to this point. The only reason I got to this point was because I was positive. I get it that there were periods of my life where I was overwhelmed and negative. It’s called mental illness. When you’re telling a person who becomes Imbalanced or mentally ill to feel or do something specific it’s like telling a scorpion not to sting you. That’s Mental Illness and dammit I am positive.
You can’t do and think what your supposed to do and think and be a productive human being when your in a mentally -ill state. It doesn’t mean you will always be like that but UNTIL you or whoever can become well or balanced again; telling them to JUST BE POSITIVE, well it ain”t gonna work. Why can’t people understand that? Telling a mentally ill person to be positive is counter-productive. They need to get better first. They need help. It’s a disease. It’s NOT A FRAME OF MIND. Nothing frustrated me more than people thinking I’m not a positive person. It is more complicated than that. The other thing I found out is when your open about your disease there are people out there that will use it against you. WOW…talk about cruelty. Well that’s another blog for another day.
It’s the brain; it is not working right, just like heart or the kidney might not work right. There is no difference but yet we continue to demonize the mentally ill and sympathize for the heart and kidney patients. How does that make any sense?.
I was at a bar the other day. A local bar.
I was sitting there at the bar and a guy came in and he started talking to me. He seemed to be there just for that reason. He showed me poems on his phone and gave me a piece of paper ; almost a resume of sorts of why we should be friends. He was very nice. I listened to him talk for a long while and then the other guy sitting next to me asked me how could you listen to his babbling. I said it is called being kind. Then he or someone near him said, watch out for that guy, he is bi-polar or maybe even schizophrenic. Ok so that is very funny to me. He was warning the bi-polar woman, to beware the Bi-polar man.
Now for the lows or the Mean Reds as Audrey Hepburn called them. The lows can be excruciating. A complete loss of interest in life and activities. The depression and suicidal thoughts are non-ending. Then there are the racing thoughts that take rent in our brains and NEVER LEAVE. Overthinking can be the very thing that can instigate a severe depression episode. The hardest part is we simply feel everything so much stronger and so much deeper than the average person. There are physical side effects as well like sever muscle and joint pain that can happen. I always had a lot of leg muscle pain and for years my parents would say its growing pains. Well I am grown now and its still happening. I was also a athlete so we also blamed athletics but none of my teams-mates had what I had. My legs hurt all the time. I finally learned after years and years with the leg pain that depression can effect muscle pain. WoW! I never knew that. Now if you take meds for bi-polar there are a host of side effects that go hand in hand with taking the medication. Getting used to them can take years and can be a complete living hell. There is confusing thoughts, brain fogginess, weight gain and bloating, lack of exuberance for life. You feel like a zombie. You lose your creativity, one of the very few wonderful things that is a bi-product from being bi-polar. It can be hell on wheels and hell and hell and hell.
Now for the short answer. You See a Cat, I see a Tiger.
Now what I mean by that is you see or feel something; we will see it or feel it on a much deeper level. If will effect us more. We will be affected longer. Death, Broken Relationships, problems, Media events and News will all affect us more, deeper and longer. We are more emotional and someone might call us Drama queens. It makes it harder to exist and thrive because we are so overwhelmed by the feelings and emotion and pain on a day to day basis. There is also the people who like to minimalize your disease. They will say things like, oh we are all bi-polar at some point or Just get over it or Come on, be happy! Some will say, it’s not like you have cancer. My thoughts on that is people will never understand how hard it is to deal with this unless they have it. Cancers is horrible and I know because both my parents had/have cancer but it doesn’t make Mental illness any easier. The difference is when you get Cancer people feel bad for you, you get greeting cards and sympathy and support.
There are not greeting cards for bat-shit crazy. I hate when people want to compare suffering.
To give you a perfect example of You see a cat, I see a Tiger; we can use the OJ Simpson Murders and Trial.
I remember when that happened and I couldn’t take my eyes off the damn TV. I was so affected by it. It was really devastating for me. I remember my siblings saying why are you so sad over this? It didn’t happen to you. Why do you care so much?. I remember thinking I have no idea, its just the way my brain works. I thought to myself, how come your not effected more? I couldn’t understand their aloof manner and they couldn’t understand my extreme obsession on this news event.
I mean I was a OJ fan and It was horrible to see him running from the law in that white bronco. It was horrific to see two people; Ron and Nicole slaughtered and killed like that. The conflicting feelings of still loving OJ but knowing deep down he was guilty bastard was confusing. Then the guilt I felt for hoping on some level that OJ doesn’t go to Jail; kind of like getting off for all the innocent black men that did go to Jail. Kind of like Payback?! I mean we knew OJ did it and we also all knew this was a crime of passion and he probably wouldn’t kill again. The guilt I felt just for thinking that was overwhelming. The poor victims and their families, they deserve a conviction. I remember thinking they were going to be the sacrificial lamb for all the unjust arrests in the black communities for years. We also knew he was gonna get off because he was a loveable star athlete and movie star and that crazy defense “dream team”. Jesus, a team only money could buy. Payback or Tragedy or both. I had all sorts of conflicting feelings and then guilt for feeling them. What the fuck. I didn’t do it but I felt guilty for feeling well really anything. There was no win -win here. Not matter what I wanted to happen either way it was a horrible outcome.
Then the people around me got over this news story and moved on with their life while I was still sitting there saying WTF? What is to become of all of us if OJ turned out to be a narcissistic psychopath. So yeah ….you see (or feel) a cat, I see (or feel) a tiger. Get it. It is EXHAUSTING and not PRODUCTIVE. It can happen with anything. Work problems, family problems, Man problems. It is just harder to exist. Basically.
Speaking of Productivity, I still do not know how I got up and went to work everyday. Well actually I do know; it was because my parents raised us to think that was what you did, there was no other choice. Work ethic was a big deal in our household. The choice to stay in bed was NOT A OPTION. I would wake up and feel like a truck hit me. I know everyone has bad days but this was a normal thing. I know the people I lived with didn’t deal with this. I could tell. They were able to deal with the everyday routines much more effortlessly than I was. Waking up, grooming and getting dressed and getting thru the day was so easy for them. They moved about the house like some sort of domestic ballet. I always felt like I was swimming against the currents. Swimming upstream without a paddle so to speak.
I used to compare it to someone who would have a ball and chain on their ankles. It was always there and you couldn’t get rid of it. I am just talking about one of my afflictions; there were two which made everything even harder but I want to focus on the Bi-polar here.
I never felt good, I never felt at ease and I was always tired. Being in pain, being misunderstood and crying was a daily hardship.
When I finally got diagnosed and got used to the horrible medications and I started to feel “better” I was like oooohhhh this is what everyone else feels like. I get it now. I wake up feeling energized and healthy on most days, not all but most. I still have ups and downs but not as severe and scary as before. It took me 45 years to get to this point. 45 years to understand what it felt like to be “normal”. 45 years of being positive and strong and staying the course that one day I would figure it all out. I had a very strong will to survive.
That’s Bi-Polar for me. Since most of you won’t ask or even acknowledge it in any kind of positive way I thought it important to try to explain. Like I said earlier; there is no greeting card for bat-shit crazy.
Mental illness is still the stuff swept under the rug and not to be spoke about in a direct manner. The elephant in the room if you will. I have to talk about it. It helps me somehow. People are still cruel and stigma still exists but I say fuck you to stigma. Long or short answer; that is the thick of it.